Gunnedah coach John Hickey has called on his leadership group to "step up" as the side tries to right itself after two consecutive losses.
Ahead of the Bulldogs' vital clash against the Cowboys at Dungowan on Saturday, Hickey revealed on Thursday morning that injuries and work commitments meant he did not know who his 17 would be for the match.
He said now more than ever the side needed their four-pronged leadership group of Reece Jaeger, Matt Baker, Matt Brady and Aaron Donnelly.
Hickey introduced the leadership group when he took over as coach this season, entrusting them to drive the team forward.
It's really gonna test their resolve to make this happen.John Hickey
But he admitted that the group - like the side as a whole - was struggling to perform at its optimum.
"The leadership group, due to the way we've been working, has been really tough to put together as well," Hickey said.
"But over the next few weeks they're gonna really have to step up and get together. The most difficult thing is just through work: they're not always there [at training]."
Despite that, Hickey "100 per cent" expects the leadership group to deliver.
"It's really gonna come down to them and the attitude that they bring to the team," he said.
"It's really gonna test their resolve to make this happen. At the end of the day, everything comes back to individuals standing up under pressure.
"But the team influence and the team attitude will be governed by those four players."
Gunnedah slipped from third to fifth on the ladder following the Roosters loss. Hickey believes that the Bulldogs at full strength, or close to it, can still win the premiership.
"You know, their demands on each other and the quality of their training is something that they're probably questioning," he said. "But they want to make it work. So this weekend will certainly be a big step for them."